The importance of building Scotland’s evidence base and using it

Marie Curie has launched its largest ever call for research in partnership with the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office (CSO) and the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MND Association), totalling £1,425,000. £450,000 of this will be spent directly in Scotland.

Research into palliative and end of life care in Scotland and across the UK is currently woefully underfunded which is why this new call is so important.

A recent report submitted to the Scottish Parliament’s inquiry into palliative care found that “research investment has been low and there are relatively small numbers of centres where academic studies are being developed at a high level”1.

Research findings are also taking too long to be turned into practice. It is suggested that only 14% of research findings in medicine are translated into clinical practice and that it takes an average of 17 years before they are actually incorporated2. This is not enough and far too slow.

The need for more research and a robust evidence base has also been identified as an issue by the Scottish Government as part of its work in developing a new Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative and End of Life Care. We are expecting to see a commitment to building an evidence base in that framework when it is published later this year as well as a strong approach to evidence-based improvement.

There are many committed and dedicated professors, senior academics, post-graduate and research students leading on palliative care research in a range of settings in Scotland today. We hope that this call will be answered with innovative submissions to enhance this great work.

Research is vital in helping us to understand what palliative care looks like across Scotland and how we can improve it. This extra investment is very welcome, but must lead to better care and support for those with a terminal illness and their families.

1. A report for the Scottish Parliament by Professor David Clark: International comparisons in palliative care provision: what can the indicators tell us?, 9th Report, 2015

2. A national survey of primary care practice-based research networks, Tierney WM, Oppenheimer CC, Hudson BL, Benz J, Finn A, Hickner JM, Lanier D, Gaylin DS, Ann Fam Med. 2007 May-Jun; 5(3):242-50.